Is it Time to replace old electrical wiring?
Green Electric & Automation is a electrical contractor that works in older homes in the Woodstock Ontario area. Many home owners find architectural charm in older homes that is no longer present in the modern homes built in the surrounding housing developments. One of the trade off’s for this style of architectural design is having to deal with old electrical wiring problems.
Most electrical wiring is contained out of sight. To find it you must search within the ceilings, walls and electrical boxes of the various rooms of your home. Typically the circuit is protected at 15 amps and provides the lighting and power to receptacles. Due to the concealment of electrical wiring it can become unknowingly compromised through simple aging, pest infiltration, weather and mechanical damage.
Common spots to find wiring problems.
As you can see in the picture above, this old lighting ballast has seen better days. Notice the scorch marks on the metal pan and how the wiring insulation is melted. This faulty lighting ballast did not trip the breaker! It was only discovered through a routine electrical maintenance visit, the customer was unaware of the problem.
Deteriorated wiring can present a shock hazard and serious fire hazard. When living in a home with older wiring it should be noted that the amperage of the wiring may not be able to meet the needs of the devices used in homes today. As a result you could over load a circuit, blowout a fuse or trip a circuit breaker.
How to fix a blown round type fuse in your homes fuse box panel.
Before you get started.
Do not attempt to replace a fuse that burnt out with a higher rated fuse. In some situations incorrectly sized round fuses are inserted into the electrical panel creating the possibility of over heating the wiring from within the wall or causing a fire.
If you have a old 100 or 60 amp main fuse box electrical panel you will likely require at some point the need to change out a burnt out fuse. At this point you should investigate what caused the circuit to blow and remove whatever was last plugged in to prevent another fuse from blowing when you replace it. To start you should make sure you have the proper type and amp rating of the needed replacement fuse. ampacity fuse.
Round fuse color coding
Fuses are color coded to help you identify them. Blue is 15 amp, red is 20 amp, green is 30 amp. Also check the type. A regular round fuse is a T type. If the circuit is a fridge or dishwasher it may require a TL type fuse. TL designates that the fuse has time delay to allow the starting of a motor. There is also another fuse called Type TC which has even more time delay but its application is mainly for industrial equipment starting.
It is worth mentioning that you can also obtain a circuit breaker fuse. This fuse type has a circuit breaker reset button built into the top of the fuse that allows you to reset it when tripped. These circuit breaker fuse types replace type T fuses and can be found in 15 amp and 20 amp sizes.
How to replace a old round T type fuse in your fuse box electrical panel.
Arc flash warning. Caution should be exercised changing a fuse as it can be dangerous doing this job improperly. Make sure the power is off when replacing the fuse. Failure to due so could result in electrocution or arc flash.
With the proper fuse on hand you can start the job by sourcing out a portable flash light that can illuminate your work area while the power is off. Start by turning off the main power disconnect. Once power is verified to be off you can safely remove the old fuse and replace it with the new fuse. Ensure the fuse is inserted all the way and not cross threaded. Once the new fuse is in place, use your left hand to re-energize the main power switch. Lights should be back on and everything will be back to normal. Verify that the wiring problem is fixed by testing the circuit to see if it is working correctly. If the fuse immediately blows out again you will have to call an electrician to troubleshoot your wiring problem.
Over use of receptacle splitters and Extension cords
The picture above illustrates hazardous home wiring. In particular this can cause arcing connections, overloading and tripping circuit breakers.
Another common issue in older homes is that due to past electrical requirements a older home may not have enough receptacles placed around the perimeter of the room for adequate power availability. This can create a problem if a home owner tries to remedy the problem by using power cords and receptacle splitters to increase their wiring capacity.
Dividing a circuit to lower the electrical load.
As previously mentioned, a tripping breaker is a sign that you may have a problem. To start troubleshooting you will want to identify if a circuit has been over loaded. You can determine this by seeing how many branch circuits and devices are on that breaker. A common fix to that wiring problem would be to find a optimum point to split the circuit so that two breakers are used to share the load.
Common older home upgrades.
Adding a GFCI receptacle to a bathroom or kitchen is a great way to increase safety for your family. A GFCI accomplishes this by limiting you to the potential of electrical shock near water. If your bathroom or kitchen lights are not working be sure to check and reset the GFCI.
In some electrical installations you may need to check the circuit breaker in the main electrical panel to make sure the breaker is not tripped. Keep in mind that just because you may not have GFCI receptacles in your home, breakers can also be GFCI rated. This will depend on how your home electrical panel is wired. This is why you shouldn’t over look a breaker being tripped if you can’t troubleshoot the problem at the receptacle.
Easy fix for why a receptacle outlet is not working.
Above displays a typical 15 amp receptacle added for a home renovation. This will allow sufficient power distribution limiting the need for extension cords and receptacle outlet power splitters.
You may want to check that the circuit breaker for the bedroom is not tripped in your main electrical panel. You can do this by switching the breaker to the fully off position then back to the on position to reset.
Why do I need Arc Fault Circuit Interruption protection?
New Ontario electrical code now requires bedrooms as well as many other branch circuits to be AFCI protected. There use prevents house fires by limiting the chance of sparks igniting combustible materials in your home. Be sure to check the receptacle if it is not working by resetting AFCI if tripped. If your problem is in an older home, verify that the receptacle in question is not switched at the light switch.
Pictured above is a Tamper Resistant AFCI Receptacle produced by Eaton. Notice the test & reset buttons and led status light in the center of the receptacle outlet – similar to a GFCI receptacle.
Pool or Hot tub circuit breaker tripping?
Circuit breakers trip to protect the electrical wiring and equipment they are connected to. Circuit breakers, receptacles, and motors can and do fail, Sometimes a wiring problem can be traced to a specific event or reason that will need to be fixed first before a tripping breaker problem can be resolved.
In the case of pools it is important to extract debris from the water for both the durability of the pool equipment and for the enjoyment of having clean water to swim in. Sometimes debris can make it past the pool strainer and filters and get tangled up in the pool pump. Long thin grass, string and hair are the worst type of debris. This is because this type of debris places a significant amount of load on the pump motor. It will in turn cause a higher motor amperage and a excessive load that will allow the buildup of heat in both the motor and the pump. If this debris restriction is not corrected, it can prematurely wear out the impeller bushing of the pump or lead to frequent circuit breaker tripping. Constantly resetting the breaker will just make the problem worse and likely lead to irreversible damage requiring extensive repairs or replacement.
It makes sense to periodically check the pump over to make sure its spinning freely, exhibits no abnormal sounds and is maintaining its prime while in operation. Also you will want to inspect all the pump strainers to make sure there are no large holes or cracks in the mesh basket allowing the debris to bypass. When your pool system is clean and clear of debris not only will your pump last longer it will run more efficiently by using less electricity.
Ceiling fan not working?
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Garage door opener not working correctly?
If a garage door opener is not closing or opening properly you may want to:
if equipped, check that there are no obstructions in the doorway blocking the sensors path. The sensors need a clear line of sight for the opener to function properly.
confirm that the sensors are aligned and working correctly. Often a sensor will get bumped, knocking it out of alignment. Most door sensors have a green status light indicating when they are in properly alignment.
Verify that there is power present at the receptacle where the openers power cord plugs into. If your using a DMM (digital multi-meter) verify that power is present by checking the hot to neutral and hot to ground. If your not getting the expected voltage you may have a open ground or open neutral.
Check that the circuit breaker hasn't tripped in the main electrical panel. Also if it is tripped investigate the reason why it tripped. The breaker might be tripping because there is a serious electrical fault. Consistently resetting the breaker may damage your equipment and wiring. Just remember that a breaker that trips is likely functioning correctly in that its protecting your equipment and you from harm.
Investigate into the opener's motor torque settings. When a garage door opener is installed, the down force pressure must be adjusted as to prevent an injury to someone if the door was to close on them. By having this setting adjusted properly, there is a reduced chance of a child or pet getting crushed by the closing force of the door. Likewise if the force is set to low, the door will never stay closed and will re-open when reaching the end limit of travel. Also look into the garage door springs. They may need an adjustment or replacement. A broken torsion spring can cause the symptom of a electrical issue in that the door opener motor may sound like its struggling to open. This is because the motor needs the stored energy in the spring to assist with raising and lowering the door.
Two broken tension spring are what caused this garage door opener from functioning properly. If left in this state of disrepair and someone was to repetitively try to open the door via the openers control buttons the circuit breaker controlling the opener would likely trip. Even worse you run the possibility of burning out the opener motor and requiring it to be replaced.
Central vacuum electrical problems.
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On the central vacuum model shown above the circuit breaker reset button is to the left of the power switch. Try pressing the reset button on your central vacuum if your having trouble getting it to start.
Fixing electrical problems and making home improvements.
Renovations can greatly enhance the aesthetics, function and safety in your home. Adding electrical outlets, GFCI’s in bathrooms & kitchens, AFCI’s for branch circuits could be included as part of a home electrical layout plan. Non functioning light fixtures are worth examining as they can pose a serious electrical fault which may not trip the circuit breaker. Replacing a electrical panel can significantly modernize and protect your home while providing improved safety. Consider future living needs in your home by increasing the circuit capacity and functionality of your electrical panel. These upgrades will help make better use of new home appliances, new technology and future renovation improvements.
If you need advice or further information please give us a call or send us a message. Our electricians are here to help.